Category Archives: Soups

Weekly Eating – 10/10

 

Hey y’all! Welcome to the series Weekly Eating.

Here is where I’ll talk about the week’s meal plan versus reality, what we ate for the week, and how we did budget-wise. I hope it gives readers a behind-the-scenes look into our life through the lens of food, and it’s also a way to keep us on track with meal planning and grocery budgeting.

Feel free to share your wins and lessons in the comments below!

 

Ha, do y’all remember those commercials for 10-10-220? This week’s date made me think of it. Sheesh, I’m old…

Wow, there is so much going on in this with the grungy guy, the flirty lady, the cops and donuts routine… we won’t go there. Has anyone actually used this? Does it still work? No I kind of want to make a call to, say, Ecuador or Kazhakistan just to see.

 

Monday:

Breakfast – granola bar

Lunch – mason jar salad

Dinner – Buffalo chicken grilled cheese & soup

I saw this recipe online somewhere last week, and knew I had to have it! We had plenty of shredded cooked chicken from a whole one I roasted in the crock pot. I added in some Ranch and Yum Yum Sauce too, because why not?

I had mine with some homemade chicken noodle soup, and the boy had some tomato soup with his. They were quite tasty!

Tuesday:

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs on toast

Lunch – Cabbage vegetable soup, actually very flavorful and like, 20 calories per bowl! I may have had a few…

Dinner – Burritoes. Because there is never a bad time for a burrito.

Snack – M&Ms, peach yogurt

Wednesday:

Breakfast – Chocolate peanut butter bar & yogurt

Lunch – Black beans & rice. I had made about a half pound of black beans from dried over the weekend, so combined with some leftover brown rice this is a super simple lunch I pack quite often.

Dinner – Lemon Honey Chicken Breasts in the slow cooker with steamed veggies & potatoes. I didn’t get a picture of this one, mostly because we were hungry and ate it too fast, but also it just wasn’t pretty. But it tasted good! Just 2 chicken breasts on low in the crock pot all day with a dash of lemon and a drizzle of honey.

Snack – raw veggies & blender hummus

Thursday:

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs on toast. For whatever reason, I’ve been in a scrambled eggs mood this week.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Lunch – Homemade chicken noodle soup <3

Dinner – Stir Fry! Stir Thursday… Stursday? I sorta cheated and used a pre-packaged mix for this. But ya know, sometimes you just don’t want to chop a bunch of veggies, and it would also be more expensive for me to buy a tiny quantity of snow peas, carrot, broccoli slaw, etc. So when I saw this on sale, of course I snagged it.

I had some shredded chicken still left from my whole chicken, and between  the veg and chicken it was the perfect amount of food for the two of us. I made a big batch of brown rice in the rice cooker, and kept the rest in the fridge for later meals.

Snack – Granola bar

Friday:

Breakfast – scrambled egg wrap with salsa

Lunch – Rice & beans, mason jar salad

Dinner – Friday the 13th party! This is the only Friday the 13th all year, and it just so happens to be in October. So we decided to have a fall/Halloween dinner party for the occasion. It was a small affair, with good food, corn hole, good conversation and a lot of laughs.

I roasted 2 big pork loins, along with some potatoes with rosemary and acorn squash with nutmeg. Some homemade stuffing, homemade sauerkraut, and whole wheat dinner rolls rounded out the meal. It was quite tasty, if I do say so myself!

I also had made some rosemary lemonade (since I have a gigantic rosemary bush by the mailbox that needs harvesting), and a special spooky rum punch.

The Weekend

I decided to finally stop procrastinating and bake something to welcome a few new neighbors. In the past 2 months, 3 houses on our block had been sold, and I desperately wanted to welcome them to the ‘hood. So I took some applesauce I had made last weekend, and turned it into cinnamon apple muffins! Everyone knows the quickest way to befriend someone is to feed them. 🙂

Sunday was quite productive too, I did some recording (potentially some exciting announcements coming soon…) and along with the muffins made a huge batch of my #1 recipe: Buffalo chicken potato bake.

Also prepped several mason jar salads, and a pitcher of smoothie for quick breakfasts. Cleaned out the refrigerator of some very old stowaways (green tomato salsa… from Connecticut? Ew!) and took everything out of the freezer, reorganized it, and made the rest of the month’s meal plan based off of what we have. Phew!

Food Total: $166.04 (less booze = $67.35!)

My goal is to keep this number under $100 all the time, and eventually get down to $75/week for food.

Ouch… But we were having a fall/Halloween/Friday the 13th party, so I stocked up on several seasonal and variety packs of beer and some wine. I also picked up some dry ice, to make the punch extra bubbly and spooky. There was also a good price on honey, and since we want to dabble in making mead I grabbed some, so about $20 of that is honey. Without the party costs, food this week was actually way below budget!

There were some great sales on chicken breasts, so even though they weren’t on the meal plan I snagged a few. We can adapt the weekend or next week’s meals or freeze as needed. I also found a great discount on 70/30 ground beef, which we ALWAYS need, so I grabbed that too and froze it.

Lessons Learned

Honestly, in terms of what was on my grocery list this week, the cost was under $40! Not bad. But stocking up ahead of time when there are great sales is one of my favorite grocery tricks to keep overall spending and cost per meal low.

Another lesson here is that alcohol is not a frugal beverage! Of course, the best beverage choice is free: water. But we both enjoy a glass of red or a cold beer now and then, and especially in social situations. Sure, we could tell everyone to BYOB and maybe even get a few free leftover 6 packs, but I prefer to be generous when hosting. And hubs loves variety!

It did bring up the conversation of homebrewing again though. We might have to follow Mr. Picky Pincher’s lead on this one!

 

How about you guys, did you have a great week or a learning week?

Easy 10 minute minestrone

 

This recipe is a super simple one!  If all you want is a hot, fresh bowl of soup that tastes great and is also quite healthy, you have come to the right place. You can easily make this in a slow cooker on low all day, or boil it on the stove to have dinner in 10 minutes, your choice.

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Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound small pasta
  • 1 potato, chopped small
  • 1 carrot, chopped small

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Step 1: Place all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil. Boil for 8-10 minutes, and serve! It is essentially ready when the potato and carrots and pasta are soft enough to eat.

 

Corn & Potato Chowder

As summer winds down and schools re-open, some mourn the loss of hot, carefree summer days at the beach, while others rejoice at cooler nights and empty houses (I see you, moms everywhere!). For those who garden, or anyone who eats locally, you know this means that corn and potatoes are coming to the end of harvest season. There isn’t much better than biting into a crisp, sweet corn on the cob! But in case you get tired of that, this is a great way to use corn, or feel free to substitute in canned or frozen too.

Now that the heat of summer is starting to wane, soups and chowders become more tempting. Save some of your bumper crop of corn in the freezer, and potatoes store well for months in a cool dry place, and you can have this chowder anytime in the coming months. You can take fresh cooked corn cobs, and using a sharp knife just cut all the kernels right off.  Freeze those in bags, and you will have a taste of summer any time. Or use the freshest, sweetest corn you can get your hands on and make it right now!

Corn and potato chowder

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ears of cooked corn, with kernels cut off (or 1 can/small bag frozen)
  • 3-4 medium red skin potatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3-4 tbsp flour or cornstarch
  • 2 small leeks
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Black pepper & salt to taste

Step 1: In a frying pan, cook the onions, leeks, garlic, and potatoes in oil for 10-15 minutes, until onions are translucent and potatoes are soft. Add the corn and chicken stock, bring to a boil for 3-5 minutes.

Corn and potato chowder with biscuit

Step 2: Remove a few tbsp of the soup, and add the flour to it. Mix well to create a roux, then pour back into the pot along with the milk. Bring to barely a simmer, season to your tastes. Serve with fresh biscuits and top with fresh parsley if you like!

 

Corn & Potato Chowder

Corn & Potato Chowder

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ears of cooked corn, with kernels cut off (or 1 can/small bag frozen)
  • 3-4 medium red skin potatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp butter or oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3-4 tbsp flour or cornstarch
  • 2 small leeks
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Black pepper & salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan, cook the onions, leeks, garlic, and potatoes in oil for 10-15 minutes, until onions are translucent and potatoes are soft. Add the corn and chicken stock, bring to a boil for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Remove a few tbsp of the soup, and add the flour to it. Mix well to create a roux, then pour back into the pot along with the milk. Bring to barely a simmer, season to your tastes. Serve with fresh biscuits and top with fresh parsley if you like!
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Parsnip, Potato, & Leek Spring Soup

 

I don’t know about the weather elsewhere, but the weather here in Connecticut seems to be very bi-polar.  One day it is in the 50s and sunny, and I am getting cabin fever and want to plant everything in the seed catalog immediately, the next day we get almost a foot of snow dumped on us overnight.  What’s going on here?

I am so thankful that CT has some amazing farmers who have hoop houses, green houses, store rooms, and other ways of extending our crazy growing season, so that we are already getting some of the first tender crops of the springtime.  Though not quite yet asparagus season, we have access to several root crops (beets, parsnips, onions, potatoes, leeks…), winter squash, eggs & meats, and tender fresh greens (grown inside of course).

Spring Farmers Market Foods

Usually I plan the week’s meals before going to the store, but I decided to get crazy this week, and let the market make my meal plan.  Whatever was fresh and available, I will form the week’s meals around that.  This is one small step on my lifelong journey to be a locavore (to eat whole seasonal foods grown as close to me as possible as often as possible).

A big bag of fresh microgreens, spinach, and head lettuce means tons of fresh salads.  Healthy brown eggs means breakfasts, frittatas, and quiches.  CT grown oyster mushrooms may be grilled, sauteed, added to soups, or stir fried.  The fingerling potatoes will complement just about anything, and the beets too have many many options.

Soup spices whole

The first dish I decided to make (after a giant fresh greens salad, because I couldn’t wait and helped myself almost as soon as I got home) was a slow cooker soup.  I had obtained leeks, parsnips, and fingerling potatoes.  Combined with onions I had over-wintered, fresh ground spices, and canned turkey broth (from Thanksgiving!) it would be the perfect thing on a chilly snow-covered day.

Parsnip Potato Leek Soup Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 large parsnip (or carrot)
  • 1 large leek
  • 3-5 small potatoes
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2-3 cups bone broth, vegetable broth, or water
  • Optional spices: black pepper, fennel, cumin, sea salt, garlic

Spring soup in the crock pot

Step 1: If using fresh whole spices, grind them up in a coffee or spice grinder.  In a crock pot or small soup pot, add the broth.  Wash the outside of the produce, but leave the skin on.  Dice up the potatoes, parsnip, onion, and leek and add to the pot.  Add water to cover.

Step 2: Cook in crock pot on “high” for 4 hours or “low” for 6-8 hours, or bring to a boil on the stove, and simmer for 1-2 hours. Serve fresh with a drizzle of olive oil and maybe some thick bread or rolls.

 

 

Slow Cooker New England Clam Chowder

 

One of the things I was most excited about when moving to New England was of course the seafood! The beautiful thing about being near the sea is the abundance of affordable and fresh seafood. From salmon to crab to scallops to, of course, lobster, Connecticut is a playground for those who are pescatarian.

This recipe is a simple one for New England Clam Chowder, the whitish creamy version.  Not the icky, reddish, tomato-based Manhattan style. Did you know that in 1939, a bill was introduced by State Rep. Cleveland Sleepe in Maine to make it illegal to add tomatoes to chowder?! Oh yeah, New England takes its clam chowder seriously.

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The recipe here calls for cooking the potatoes and clams most of the day in a slow cooker, then creating a roux and adding it in just before serving.  I have added in my own Polish/Slovak flair by switching the cream for sour cream, creating what we call a “zapraska” (used to make Hungarian chicken paprikush soup) to deepen the flavor of the roux and lend a creamier final flavor.

You could instead cook all the ingredients but the sour cream together all day, and then simply add small amounts of hot liquid to the sour cream and flour until thickened and stir it in just before serving.  That would be the ultimate hands-off chowder recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz clams, fresh or frozen, preferably in their own juice
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 ribs celery
  • 8 oz fish sauce or clam juice
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1/4 cup flour or cornstarch

Ingredients for slow cooker new england clam chowder

Step 1: Dice the potatoes and put into the slow cooker. Add the entire contents of the clams (or fresh and add the clam juice). Add water to cover. (Add more for thinner soup, add just enough to cover potato pieces for thicker soup). Put the slow cooker on “low” for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.

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Step 2: Dice the celery, garlic, and onion into small pieces. Add the oil and veggies to a frying pan, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until translucent.

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Step 3: Add the flour to the pan with the oil, stir for 2-3 minutes. Then add the fish sauce and a little water from the slow cooker until it forms a thick paste. Mix in the sour cream, and whisk it all together well. This is the roux (pronounced “roo”) you will add to thicken the soup.

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Step 4: Add your roux to the slow cooker and mix well.  Now your soup is ready to serve! Add more flour and less water to thicken, or add more water to make a thinner soup.  Serve with nice hearty rolls and/or a fresh green salad.

 

Ham and White Bean Soup

 

As the days grow colder and shorter, sometimes there is nothing quite so amazing as a steaming bowl of soup.  Soup is wonderful for so many reasons.  You can easily sneak all kinds of healthy veggies and ingredients into soup.  Soups are generally very kind to the budget, with frugal ingredients like beans and grains, and the ability to save about-to-expire produce.  Soup feels good on a sore throat, and is mostly healthy (if broth based, not fatty/creamy).

And soup just tastes great.

This ham soup starts with a rich & nutritious broth made from the ham bones, but if you don’t have the time (or the bones) you can use pre-made stock as well.  You can also substitute in any type of veggie you prefer, though I recommend sticking to about 2 cups of some sort of leafy green, and 1 cup of another harder veg for contrast.

Ham and white bean soup simmering

Ingredients:

  • 1 ham bone + 6-8 oz meat
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 bunch kale
  • 1 large can white beans, or 2 small cans
  • Optional: 2 tbsp chicken bouillon

Scoop of ham and white bean soup

Step 1: In a crock pot or stock pot, simmer the ham bone in enough water to cover for 8-12 hours, during the day or overnight.  Strain the liquid, pull any remaining meat off the bone and shred it, and return it to the pot.  Discard the bones.

Scoop of ham and white bean soup with veggies

Step 2: Bring the stock to a boil, and add the kale and carrots.  Drain and rinse the beans to get rid of excess sodium and add to the pot.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until carrots soften.

Ham and white bean soup in bowl

Step 3: If needed, add in the bouillon.  This soup seems simple, but the base is so flavorful from being stewed so long.

Ham and white bean soup with cheese and bread

I suggest serving this with thick, soft Italian or multi-grain bread, and you may or may not want to shred some cheese over top.  I added just a touch of Vermont white cheddar, and it was absolutely scrumptious!  Even the fiancee, who just kind of tolerates soups, loved it and had seconds.  If you’d like your soup a little thicker, add less water and mash up one of the cans of beans before adding it.

 

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

 

For those who do not know, late summer is when the garden bounty is rolling in, including tomatoes and herbs like basil. Home gardeners are likely giving away baskets of fresh veggies and herbs to friends, family, and neighbors. Those who know how and have the time & inclination are putting up the excess for the long, cold winter ahead by canning, drying, and freezing.

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I planted a few basil seeds in late April, and had no idea they would take off so well! They were tiny seedlings when I had them in a pot in the window, but when I put them outside they just flourished! Now I have a basil bush just outside my front door. It is wonderfully convenient to just run out and grab a few leaves.

This tomato soup recipe is stunningly simple. Don’t let its simplicity fool you though, it is also amazingly delicious. There is nothing quite so amazing as fresh, local produce simply prepared. Orange goo in a can doesn’t even come close.

With only 3 ingredients, this soup is so easy a five-year-old could probably make it. And, honestly, you don’t even need the basil, you can just make a simple creamy tomato soup by leaving it out. I added it because you can only eat so much pesto in one week. 🙂

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And the final bonus, it is both vegetarian and vegan, as well as gluten free! If you just blended it all, I bet it could be made raw too! It is very healthy, as well as Paleo and Mediterranean. There isn’t a diet I know of on which you cannot eat this soup. If you don’t have or don’t like coconut milk, you can omit it for a regular tomato soup, or use cows milk, almond milk, etc instead.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (6-7 oz)
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • Optional: olive oil, salt & pepper

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Step 1: Open the coconut milk and mix it up with a spoon. Pour half into a pot and begin heating. Dice up your tomatoes into quarters and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-12 minutes.

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Step 2: You can stop here if you don’t mind your soup a little chunky and don’t want to add basil, it has a nice rustic texture at this point. Would be great served with some whole-grain bread. But if you want it creamy and smooth, pop it into the blender and give it a whirl.

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Step 3: Add the handful of basil, and blend again.

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(Note: be sure to have the lid on the blender firmly. Otherwise, you end up with a hot, orange mess all over your stove. Not that I would know from experience…)

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Pour your hot, finished creamy tomato soup into 2 bowls, top with sea salt & black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if you like. This makes a little less than 1 quart of soup, and can easily be doubled to use the whole can of coconut milk. Simply add more tomatoes.

Enjoy!

Creamy Basil Tomato Soup

Creamy Basil Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can coconut milk (6-7 oz)
  • 4-5 large ripe tomatoes
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • Optional: olive oil, salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Open the coconut milk and mix it up with a spoon. Pour half into a pot and begin heating. Dice up your tomatoes into quarters and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  2. You can stop here if you don't mind your soup a little chunky and don't want to add basil, it has a nice rustic texture at this point. Would be great served with some whole-grain bread. But if you want it creamy and smooth, pop it into the blender and give it a whirl.
  3. Add the handful of basil, and blend again. Pour the hot soup into two bowls, and top with sea salt & black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil if you like. Enjoy with some fresh whole grain bread or a nice green salad.
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Salsa Chicken Soup

 

Every once in a while, even those who most love cooking are just too tired or out of ideas to cook. That is the perfect time for me to pull out this little gem! I love recipes that are fast & frugal, and this one is both with the added benefit of being healthy as well.

Whether crunched for time, short on creativity, or you didn’t have time to run to the store so what you have on the shelves is what you’ve got for dinner, this recipe is bound to please. Especially if you do not like to cook any time, this recipe is perfect for you.

Simple: just open a few cans, dump into a pot, and dinner is simmering away. If reading isn’t your thing, and you’d rather see just how easy this is, you can check out the YouTube video, or scroll to the bottom of this post.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 cans any type of beans (I used balck and red)
  • Optional: 1 can chicken
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 gallon water
  • Optional: Chicken bouillon

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Step 1: Open the chicken, beans, & corn, and drain if you’d like. Rinse the beans to get rid of excess sodium. Honestly, I just throw all of it in the pot for flavor.

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Step 2: Pour the water and canned goods into a pot, not draining the diced tomatoes. I usually use diced tomatoes with green chilies because I like the extra spice. You could use regular tomatoes to tone it down, or dice up a jalapeno and throw it in or add hot sauce for even more spice.

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Step 3: Add in the salsa, stir it all around. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 20-30 minutes.

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This could also be made by throwing all the ingredients into a crock pot on low all day.

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Suggested toppings include shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips or torn tortillas, and sour cream.

If you choose, you can use cooked shredded chicken breast instead of canned. Or you could leave out the chicken for a hearty vegetarian soup, both ways are delicious.

Amazing Crab & Corn Chowder

 

Since I live on the East Coast now, things like clam chowder are a given. But one day when I had a craving for it and called around, I found out it costs about $20 per quart to order from a restaurant. Of course my frugal self was all “say what?” I knew I could make something just as delicious for far less. Then one night the significant other, when asked what he’d like for dinner, said “something like soup, but thicker, to dip bread in”.

Challenge accepted.

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I went to the pantry, and surprise, have not stocked anything with clams in it yet. A quick google search revealed that corn chowder and potato chowder are both popular options throughout the midwest and east coast. I love incorporating extra veggies into just about everything, so that sounded good.

But I still wanted that coastline-eqsue “fishy” taste. Not the “I hate salmon forever because this is gross” taste, just the salty, reminds you of the ocean flavor. Anyways.

To my delight, I did have some canned crab meat on the shelf!

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Jackpot. Combined with a teeny bit of fish sauce from my favorite Asian market, that should do the trick. A bit of creative dairy and thickening, and this turned out far superior to anything I’ve had in a restaurant. I was quite pleased, and it definitely satisfied the ‘soup-like but thicker’ and dipability requirements.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can crab meat
  • 1 bag frozen corn (or 2 cups fresh)
  • 2 red potatoes, diced finely
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 block of cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: biscuits for dipping, sharp white cheddar cheese to grate on top

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Step 1: In a large pan, add the oil, potatoes, celery & onion. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Give it a good stir, then add in the corn and cook another 10 minutes, until everything is softened.

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Step 2: Add in the water, fish sauce, and milk, adjusting to suit your tastes.

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Step 3: Bring to just a simmer, and add in the cream cheese. Continue to stir as it dissolves.

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Step 4: Taste and add in the crab, black pepper, & salt. Let simmer until it reaches the desired thickness.

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Step  5: If you made/bought biscuits to go along with it, place those in the bottom of a heavy bowl, and cover with a healthy scoop or two of the chowder. You could also use those little oyster crackers.

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This stuff just smells divine, and is actually packed with tons of diced cooked veggies!

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To thicken even more, you could add a few tbsp flour to the veggies after cooking, just before adding in the water and milk.

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And if you don’t have skim milk, you could use any dairy really, half & half, whole milk, sour cream… Or just don’t use dairy &  keep it vegetarian.

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We grated some sharp white NY cheddar on top.

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Absolutely delicious! And far healthier than restaurant versions as long as you control the dairy content.

Amazing Crab & Corn Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 can crab meat
  • 1 bag frozen corn (or 2 cups fresh)
  • 2 red potatoes, diced finely
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 block of cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: biscuits for dipping, sharp white cheddar cheese to grate on top

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, add the oil, potatoes, celery & onion. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Give it a good stir, then add in the corn and cook another 10 minutes, until everything is softened.
  2. Add in the water, fish sauce, and milk, adjusting to suit your tastes.
  3. Bring to just a simmer, and add in the cream cheese. Continue to stir as it dissolves.
  4. Taste and add in the crab, black pepper, & salt. Let simmer until it reaches the desired thickness.
  5. If you made/bought biscuits to go along with it, place those in the bottom of a heavy bowl, and cover with a healthy scoop or two of the chowder. You could also use those little oyster crackers.
  6. This stuff just smells divine, and is actually packed with tons of diced cooked veggies! To thicken even more, you could add a few tbsp flour to the veggies after cooking, just before adding in the water and milk. And if you don't have skim milk, you could use any dairy really, half & half, whole milk, sour cream... Or just don't use dairy & keep it vegetarian. This is absolutely delicious! And far healthier than restaurant versions as long as you control the dairy content.
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Ham & Barley Soup

 

I don’t know about wherever you were in the world for April 20th, but happy first day of Spring! FINALLY! And… we got snow. About four inches of fluffy, wet snow. Eff you too Connecticut.

So rumor has it some big holiday thing is happening next week. As in, Easter is one week from today. WHO SAID IT COULD BE APRIL? Time needs to calm itself down, have a cup of tea, and stay awhile. Moving and starting new jobs doesn’t help, because you are insanely busy non-stop. Or so it feels like.

And once the weather remembers that it’s Spring now, it will just be crazier. Because I’ve got a window-full of happy sprouts just waiting for fresh tilled Earth! And so many new farmers markets to explore, restaurants to try, and seafood to enjoy!

Whether you celebrate the religious meanings behind Easter or just get excited about peeps and edible bunnies, it is just around the corner. And that means you are likely going to have the typical Easter ham. Even if not, you can take advantage of post-Easter sales and snap one up.

Ham & Barley Soup is a classic “dad recipe”. My dad is the expert, and has been making this for as far back as I can remember. As a kid I didn’t like it very much, but now that my tastes have matured it is one of my absolute favorite cold-weather dishes. Or anytime really. It’s so easy, and so flavorful! It is the perfect use for leftover ham and ham bones, will keep money in your wallet, and fill you up.

Ingredients:

  • Bones from one large ham shank
  • 12 oz pearled barley
  • 4-5 large carrots, cut into coins
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 gallons water or stock
  • Optional: bunch fresh kale, torn, extra ham meat
  • Salt & pepper

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Step 1: For this simple dish, the magic is in the time. Simmering the ham bones in the water all day long brings out the depth of flavor. Put the water or stock in a large soup pot with any bones, and simmer for at least 1 hour, up to 12.

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Step 2: Add the carrots, celery, and barley. Simmer for another 30-40 minutes or longer, until everything is softened.

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Step 3: Season to your liking, add extra meat if you have it, or some spinach or kale.

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This soup is deceptively simple but addicting. It makes an awful lot, so be sure you will eat it over several days, are feeding a lot of people, or have some extra freezer space.

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This is the batch I added some kale to once it was cooked. I liked the extra greens, it gave some great color, extra nutrients, and tasted awesome all together. Give it a try, maybe next week!

 

Ham & Barley Soup

Ingredients

  • Bones from one large ham shank
  • 12 oz pearled barley
  • 4-5 large carrots, cut into coins
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 gallons water or stock
  • Optional: bunch fresh kale, extra ham meat
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. For this simple dish, the magic is in the time. Simmering the ham bones in the water all day long brings out the depth of flavor. Put the water or stock in a large pot with any bones, and simmer for at least 1 hour, up to 12.
  2. Add the carrots, celery, and barley. Simmer for another 30-40 minutes or longer, until everything is softened.
  3. Season to your liking, add extra meat if you have it, or some spinach or kale. If using greens, simmer an extra 5-10 minutes to soften them. Serve hot with some fresh bread or biscuits.
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